Cats seem to be one of the most independent animals out there, right? They love to hide, nap in secret spots, groom for hours, not giving any notice to other pets and people. They want you to pet them, but ONLY when THEY want you to pet them. You might conclude that they’re pretty much okay alone.
Yet, there is a limit to this level of independence and solitude. With upcoming vacations and weekend jaunts, pet owners may be wondering, “How long can I leave my cat alone?” The team at Union Lake Pet Services is here to answer that question.
The Myth of Independence in Cats
It’s an age-old thought that cats aren’t very social and prefer to be alone. There is some degree of truth to this thinking because wild and large cats are solitary hunters and can go for days or weeks on their own. But this is not the case with domestic cats. They suffer from our mistaken belief in their being completely independent.
We reinforce the idea of their being loners when we describe cats as “stoic,” “aloof,” or “disinterested”. Contrary to this belief, many cats form social groupings and bonds that serve them in feeling safe and confident.
A cat may mourn when another pet in the household dies – a testament to how cats are not as independent as once thought. Felines form social dynamics that are unique to their species, and they have their own “pecking order” that allows privacy while maintaining normal social behavior.
Your cat forms a special bond with you as well and notices and responds when you leave, particularly for longer periods of time. This can create uncertainty and stress for them unless there is a plan in place for interaction with someone they trust.
How Long Is Too Long to Leave a Cat Alone?
How long you can leave a cat alone depends on several factors:
- Individual personality
- Behavioral health
- Physical health
- Whether there are other pet companions
All of these factors determine the right amount of time that is comfortable, safe, and healthy for your feline.
As a rule, we recommend that cats be left completely alone no more 24-48-hours without someone checking on them. A few other factors to consider include:
- The time of year. Summertime can get hot without air conditioning. If your pet is indoors and the a/c isn’t working, temperatures in the house can soar. Pets, like us, are prone to rapid dehydration in the summer. Having someone check in on how much water they have and the indoor temperature is a must.
- Your cat’s age. This article recommends times based on your cat’s age.
- Consider your pet’s health. If your pet has a medical condition that requires daily care or medication, this will obviously determine the length of time they can be left alone.
- Do they have a companion? Pets tend to do better when you are away if they have another pet to play with. If there are two cats, just make sure that both cats get along.
Better and Safer Alone Time for Your Cat
Most cats do not enjoy joining us on vacation or a business trip. There are times when we must be away from our pets, even if we want to bring them along. Cats are typically more comfortable in their own territory, so make arrangements to better equip them to stay on their own.
- Find a great self-cleaning litter box. These require more intensive cleaning each week, but they will help filter out the waste and keep your pet’s litter box clean while you are away. The other alternative is to add more boxes throughout the home.
- Refillable water bowls are a good way to keep your pet hydrated. These self-filling dispensers can hold a few gallons of water and are a smart option for times when you cannot be there to refill the smaller bowls.
- Keep a TV or radio on low. This creates white noise and sound stimulation that can help soothe your kitty.
- Keep thermostats at a comfortable temperature. If you prefer to vary temperatures throughout the day, set a programmable thermostat. Many newer thermostats may even be adjusted from your phone or computer.
- Hire a pet sitter. We recommend hiring a daily pet sitter who will come in, clean up, and feed and play with your cat for a set period each day.
- Consider kenneling your pet in a reputable boarding facility. ULPS offers cat-only boarding areas. Our spacious and cozy condos give your kitty that home away from home feeling with all the benefits of our attentive, knowledgeable staff. We invite you to come in for a tour.
Whether you choose to leave your cat alone at your home or look for a place to board, we hoped this helped. It won’t stop your kitty from punishing you for leaving him once you get home, but at least he will be safe and healthy. Please call us or schedule an appointment with the Union Lake team.